Redemptive-historical progression recognizes that redemptive acts in the Old Testament find their climax in Jesus. As Paul writes, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory” (2 Cor 1:20). In other words, all saving acts before Christ are intentionally and directly moving Salvation History toward Christ. God’s calling of Abraham finds its climax in Jesus. God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt finds its climax in Jesus. God’s anointing of David as king over Israel finds its climax in Jesus. God’s restoration of the remnant to rebuild the Temple and the Holy City finds its climax in Jesus. The genealogy from Adam to Abraham to David finds its climax in Jesus. All events in Salvation History form a chain of cause and effect which directly leads to the life and mission of Jesus. God has always had a plan and that plan has always intended to find its fullest expression in Christ (Eph 1:3-10).
Preaching redemptive-historical progression requires the preacher to contextualize an event in the Old Testament as a link in the long chain of Salvation History, which stretches from Adam to Jesus. For example, Genesis 38 is a chapter about Judah’s family and Tamar, a gentile girl who became Judah’s daughter-in-law. Following the death of two of Judah’s sons, Tamar was banished to her father’s house. Sometime later, Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and, against all odds, conceived by the unknowing Judah. Judah was prepared to have Tamar killed until he discovered that he was the father of her unborn twin children. The best way to preach this chapter is through the method of redemptive-historical progression. God promised a Messianic seed to Abraham. That seed was passed to Isaac, who passed it to Jacob, who passed it to Judah. By the sultry conception described in Genesis 38, Judah passed the seed to Perez by Tamar. The line of Perez, by Judah and Tamar, is the line of Jesus. The line of Joseph, Judah’s celebrated brother, is not the line of Messiah though Joseph became a protector of the Messianic seed. Genesis 38 is not a tale of morality, but one of grace, as God uses all means to bring His Messiah into the world.
Redemptive-historical progression recognizes the progressive nature of Salvation History and enables the preacher to contextualize Jesus within a broader framework.